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Drivetrain replacement strategies

March 18, 2021, 8:13 p.m.
Posts: 1300
Joined: May 11, 2018

Wondering what works for people in regards to min maxing their drivetrains? 

I find that I have to replace the chainring with the chain every time, even when I replace the chain at the 0.5 mark. I tried alternating between two chains but at some point would always get lazy and then the chainring wouldn't mesh nicely with one of the chains.

Because of this I run each chain to just past the 0.5 mark and then replace the chain and chainring. I run 11 speed and use a wolf tooth replacement 42 tooth cog when I replace the chain and chainring because I never get more than one 42 alloy cog per chain. In doing all this, I am able to get between 3 and 4 chains per cassette but by also replacing the chainring and 42 cog with each chain.

March 18, 2021, 9:18 p.m.
Posts: 303
Joined: Jan. 21, 2013

I just run a smaller chainring to keep the "usual" chainline good n straight. Min max to the max.

March 18, 2021, 9:44 p.m.
Posts: 2543
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Depends on the bike and it's purpose. The more pedally bike that gets used for bigger rides has a front D so there's no worries about excess wear. The middle bike has gearing that works well enough that I don't need to granny cog for the majority of the climbing. The other bike is for shuttle purposes so it doesn't matter.

March 22, 2021, 1:19 a.m.
Posts: 851
Joined: June 29, 2006

I use Sram 28t steel chainrings with xx1 11spd cassette and chain. I try to swap to a second and third chain after a couple of hundred kilometers and then swap back to chain 1 / 2 / 3 after roughly the same intervals. I use wax lube regularly (Squirt Lube). They seem to wear very slow and in an even fashion. I get a lot of use out of the cassette this way.

My Shimano RD splices shifter cables around once a season, I even had to replace the cable housing after winter. The cassette is in its second season, which surprises me.

March 22, 2021, 5:14 a.m.
Posts: 133
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Posted by: Znarf

I use wax lube regularly (Squirt Lube).

Hi Znarf! I have been using Progold lube for 15 years and I thought I'd try the Squirt lube or Muc-Off Dry lube (also uses wax contents from what I've seen). Have you ever used Progold for comparison? 

I thought I'd use WPL dry but I have a few bottles of "general" WPL lube from a few years ago and if leaves a messy gunk on the chain. I hate cleaning my drivetrain after using it and would like to stay with more "eco-friendly" options.

Squirt seems to be good for dry conditions and stays clean, does it? Thanks!

March 22, 2021, 6:37 a.m.
Posts: 851
Joined: June 29, 2006

nullHi Martin,

actually I never used Progold. The only other lubricants I regularly used to use were Finish Line Teflon(good, but not environmentally friendly, wears of FAST), Finish Line Synthetic (not environmentally friendly, dirt sticks and makes lots of mess) and Rohloff Oil of Rohloff (biodegradable but very sticky, dirt sticks like honey).

I tried Squirt two seasons ago and it works so good that I haven't used anything else.

**It has some advantages: **

If you do it right, you'll be rewarded with a silent, CLEAN and shiny chain, without having to really clean it. (take a look at my photo, the chain is a (muddy) season old and the cassette two, no cleaning needed, apart a little bit of wiping, without any solvents, degreasers etc.)

It's very thin and penetrates the chain rollers, so it actually lubricates where it is supposed to.

It seems to lubricate very well, the chain moves with noticeably less resistance, when applied. (compared to an unlubricated chain)

If you put on too much of it (I do this all the time, because it is so thin), just spin the chain for a couple of seconds and wipe it off with a rag. It is like water and comes of easy, as long as it hasn't dried.

If it dries and you got too much of it on the chain, it is just wax. Wipe it off with a rag, it's easy and even sprinkled with dust, it comes off and doesn't make that tar-like goo.

It is said to be bio-friendly. (can only take the companies word for it, hope it is true)

Some disadvantages:

It's very thin - if you don't apply it carefully, the bottle will be empty a bit faster than you'd like.

It is not cheap, get the big bottle and use something smaller to apply it.

You'll have to lubricate your chain after every long ride or after every two shorter ones. If you forget, it will start to chirp =)

You need to apply it AFTER your ride, so it can dry before your next ride. Otherwise it will dribble off.

I accidentally bought a bottle with their "cold conditions" formula. Honestly couldn't tell much difference, both worked great in winter and summer for me. As long as I applied it in my basement and let it dry there. That's also the way to go for wet weather riding (which I've had LOADS this winter). Wipe off the chain (so it is dry), apply the stuff, spin for a couple of seconds, let it dry (couple of hours). And it will work well even in rain, snow or swamp.

Chain two seasons...

Okay, I am too stupid to link my pic.

 Last edited by: Znarf on March 22, 2021, 6:39 a.m., edited 2 times in total.
March 22, 2021, 7:01 a.m.
Posts: 303
Joined: Jan. 21, 2013

^ How clean do you need to get your chain to get the Squirt to set up nicely in the first place?

I'm a Finish Line Teflon guy now, and agree about preferring to keep teflon out of the forest. Though it's in such tiny quantities I have been justifying it. Maybe it's a principle thing?

March 22, 2021, 8:52 a.m.
Posts: 133
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Wow thanks for all the info! I'm sold. Squirt was recommended by a friend of mine who does around 15-20000km/year cycle touring and he swears by that lube.

As you describe it, it looks very similar to the Progold in feel, application and ease of maintenance, which is what I liked about it, but Progold is petrochemical based and smells strong. I am using eco-friendly stuff as much as I can and chain lube was the last thing to switch over when my curent bottle was empty.

I wanted to go with WPL as I like their stanchion lube, shock oil and grease, but I can't stand a gooey chain like that. Maybe their newer/dry formulation is better, but even on my fat bike riding exclusively on snow, the chain rusted quick and was so gooey. WPL's MSDS sheets indicate that Squirt isn't much more harmful, if any. 

Thanks for the feedback!

March 22, 2021, 9:05 a.m.
Posts: 851
Joined: June 29, 2006

Actually, not all that much.

A good way to get a chain clean without removing the lubricaton is to take a cup of vegetable oil (sunflower oil works great) and either soak the chain for a while in it. Or apply generous(!) amounts of oil on the chain with an old towel. Let it sit for a bit and the old stuff will come of. Also works great for cleaning hands after cleaning a dirty chain.

The oil will solve most of the dirt/lubricant mix and the gunk will wipe off really easily with an old towel (better than underpants - the towel has lot more surface area).

If you do the same with de-greaser, your chain will be ruined. There’s almost no possibility to get the lubricant back in all the right places.

Once it is not messy anymore, wipe the chain dry and then just apply the Squirt stuff. The chain will get cleaner over time. I don’t keep my chains surgically clean. It is mountain biking after all.

As long as my silver cassette/chain don’t appear to be all black, it’s clean enough for me.

BTW: that’s not my invention, but good advice from an old mechanic at a LBS I used to work part time.

He also used to cringe and complain that there’s mainly two types of riders - ones who lube their chain to death with oil, then collect half the forest, resulting in steam engine like goo-levels. Or the ones who never do. Squeeeeeeeeeek, squeak, squeak.

„The chain only needs to be lubed on the inside. The outside should be dry“, he would explain to the customers.

For those who complained that they were being charged for chain lube, but appeared to actually receive a dry chain, he kept a spare bottle with the more sticky green stuff and applied it generously, but grumbling to himself.


I find that the Squirt stuff lasts about as long as the Teflon Finish Line, maybe longer, but it doesn’t smell as chemical and collects even less dirt. Also it lasts better in wet conditions for me.

 Last edited by: Znarf on March 22, 2021, 9:07 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
March 22, 2021, 10:44 a.m.
Posts: 307
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Anyone do the ultrasonic clean and hot wax bath? Temped to give it a go.

March 22, 2021, 2:13 p.m.
Posts: 303
Joined: Jan. 21, 2013

Posted by: earleb

Anyone do the ultrasonic clean and hot wax bath? Temped to give it a go.

I have a buddy that switched over to this system recently - gave him my old slow cooker. I am watching his results. Can't say if it's a winner or not yet.

Thanks Znarf, I will give Squirt a go. The name sounds like ... intimate personal lube ... but personally that will add to the intrigue.

 Last edited by: mrbrett on March 22, 2021, 2:16 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
March 22, 2021, 6 p.m.
Posts: 15606
Joined: Nov. 20, 2002

i was a pro gold guy for many years mostly cuz they gave out the biggest sample bottle at interbike BUT I been on Squirt for a a few years now on the road/ enduro/ Fat/ touring and I'm liking it, its wax in a water base so when the water evaps you are left with the wax in the chain

You wana put it on a clean chain the cleaning/ degreasing is the hassle but after that Squirt is just like using regular chain lube

YMMV but I get every bit of smoo off down to an absolutley bare dry chain before squirting and that method hasnt ruined my chains so I liked to start using Squirt on a new chain which i would degrease, but recently i discovered leaving the chain in a few inches of Naptha (white gas) in a pickle jar overnight, when the chain comes out of the jar it is extremely clean and the naptha will evap almost instantly to leave no oil dirt or residue of any kind with zero effort

I put a drop of squirt on each pin, I lube after i ride and let the product get in there and dry, you can point a heat gun at the chain in the stand as you run the pedals and the wax will melt off or in or then you can rub with a rag, i used squirt on a road trainer and i got little chunks or wax thrown out on the floor so it not entirely clean but ... pretty clean

for kicks if you put a drop on piece of paper to dry it will go from white milky liquid to a drop of solid wax ... pretty cool

one caveat : DO NOT let Squirt freeze, at -20 in the shed cuz it will freeze solid which will thicken the viscosity so it doesnt penetrate the links as well, so i emailed the Squirt people to ask WTF and the engineer said to just add water to thin it down a little at a time til it seems right which worked

 Last edited by: XXX_er on March 22, 2021, 6:51 p.m., edited 4 times in total.
April 1, 2021, 8:38 a.m.
Posts: 133
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Ok so I went full steam ahead with the chain prep before using Squirt. I put my two brand new chains in brake cleaner overnight, then wiped them off with a rag, then sprayed again with new brake cleaner in another yogurt container and let them sit covered in the solvent for another night. They are now free from any grease and ready to lube. I ordered straight from Squirt Canada to get the 500ml bottle (only place when I could find it) and I should have it by next Friday (thought it would be here sooner, oops!).

I've never cleaned a chain that well previously, and I'm wondering if they will rust if left drying for a few days before I receive the lube? Should I just leave them in the clean brake cleaner until then? 

I've read of someone leaving the chains saturated in Squirt in a ziploc bag before hanging them to dry so that the lube would really go inside the rollers. That sounds like a good idea so I'll try this.


April 1, 2021, 1:01 p.m.
Posts: 15606
Joined: Nov. 20, 2002

I kind of doubt the chains will rust that fast, Squirt tells you to lube a newly degreased chain twice I assume becuz you removed every spec of lube, So I just lubed twice

you want to let Squirt dry really well before riding, being water based the water has to all evap,  especilaly important  if you ride in wet conditions cuz the water will wash Squirt off,

so thats why  its best to lube apres ride so Squirt can  dry overnite for the next ride

Last fall I lubed the chain on my new fatbike in doors before putting it on the bike cuz I wasnt sure how squirt would be with freezing cold and there was no problem

I think MEC sells sqirrt

 Last edited by: XXX_er on April 1, 2021, 1:06 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
April 1, 2021, 1:14 p.m.
Posts: 133
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Thanks XXX_er!

Yeah I'd guess Shimano's surface treatment helps a bit too, and since brake cleaner doesn't leave residue and contains no water they should be fine for a few days.

MEC sells Squirt in small 120ml bottles only here, and since they gave away my member's share (that was worth 260$) in the sale, I try to shop there as least as possible now haha

The lube will have ample time to dry as the trails will be closed for another month or so here before the snow melts and the dirt dries so it should be perfect.

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